As The Flash approaches its ninth and final season, we are happy to have showrunner Eric Wallace back on to discuss what Flash fans can expect in the final season!
Setup spoilers for The Flash Season 9 follow
It’s been a long run (pun intended) for the current flagship show of the Arrowverse, The Flash, with Barry, Iris, and their friends and family having endured so much for nearly a decade. Will Iris and Barry finally start their family as has been teased (and seen from the future) for so long? Showrunner Eric Wallace joined us once again to discuss how he and his writing team approached writing this season knowing it would be the last, what fans should expect for Team Flash, and how The Flash might (or might not) tie up lose ends of the Arrowverse.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity
The Nerds of Color: First off, how are you doing?
I’m good. We’re writing the series finale as we speak. We’re holding back on tears. It’s all good. It’s a very emotional round.
Oh yeah. I can imagine. How did you approach the writing of The Flash’s final season? And what does the overall experience of concluding it feel like?
Well, the fascinating thing was in approaching the stories for the final season. I had originally had a two year plan for the series for Seasons 9 an 10. And it culminated with this incredible 200th episode, a spectacular, wonderful emotional event that was meant to happen. That was before we got the news that this is going to be our last season. That was going to be a Season 9 was only I found myself in position going, “Wow, I have a whole bunch of story for 40 episodes!” that I’m now going to cram into 13. So it wasn’t a case of what to do. It was what not to do. So there was a mad dash of pruning and basically the 200th episode that I had planned that has become the series finale. So that’s kind of the approach and then I just worked backwards from there saying, alright, what are the absolute most important things to get out in Season 9? What things do we owe — story wise? What character things do we have to pay off? What hanging plot was left over from Season 1? Because Season 9 really is a book. And I’m looking at Season 1 and 9 as the book ends to this journey that The Flash and his team have been on for all these years. So I’m telling both now and like, get ready for a little nostalgia but also a little bit of paying off things that have been into that as early as Season 1.
And speaking of that payoff as they barrel towards the end of their journey on the show, how will Barry and Iris be navigating the main conflict of the season while aiming to finally start their family?
Well, the answer to that, surprisingly, is very simple. And it’s a one word answer to in the past, they’ve tackled problems separately, right? She’s in the mirrors. He has to try and get her out. While fighting Mirror Master or Bloodwork or whomever he’s trying to level up while he’s trying to deal with the expansion at CCC media and your staff and all of those things. The difference this year is they will be facing them together. From day one as we see in our season premiere. It’s very, very Barry and Iris centered. That’s a model that we’ll be following for the majority of this year. So as they go on their Baby Moon adventures and as they get closer and closer to, you know, creating the actual family we know is coming. We just juggle it much more simply because they’ll always be with each other navigating those worlds. I think there’s only one or two moments in the season where they’re not together that was very conscious of in the writing. I’m so excited to see it especially after the season premiere where we start seeing the building of Iris’s media empire.
What can you tease anything more about that? And maybe if she’ll finally win her Pulitzer?
Oh, yeah. You might not see the actual ceremony on camera, but you will get confirmation I mean, that’s just a part of it. That’s what we’ve been building for.
So we’ve already had a few announcements of other Arrowverse actors and characters like Javicia Leslie, Nicole Maines, and Keiynan Lonsdale as Wally/Kid Flash coming back to the show. Were there any discussions to use this final season and tie up loose ends for other Arrowverse shows?
There was originally when I had hoped that we’d had 20 episodes, but my original concept was to have at least one — if not a two parter — that wrapped up Legends of Tomorrow. And you know, there will be a little crossover we get them back, we get them out of time jail, all these good things, Booster Gold, etc, etc. When we found out we only have 13 episodes, that was no longer possible. We barely have enough time to wrap up things with Barry and Iris’ upcoming family let alone who is Danielle Panabaker playing now, so there wasn’t enough time. So unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to wrap up the Legends storyline which I know is very disappointing to the fans. It’s disappointing to me. But we just don’t have the bandwidth.
It makes sense because this is The Flash. It’s not the entire Arrowverse.
Yes, yes. Yeah. And you know, it’s one of those things. We’re still writing a series finale so you never know what could happen at the very end. Hope does spring eternal, but I just want to put that to rest.
Right makes perfect sense. We know that Wally is returning. Can you tease anything about what’s happening with the West family and their developments in general this season?
When there’s so many spoilers. This is a season all about family, not just the West family, because they’re all dealing with endings and new beginnings. That’s a big theme that kind of goes through the season. Joe is coming to an ending, and by that I don’t mean Joe’s died. Nobody dies. Joe and Cecile are not getting divorced. None of that. But Joe has some really heavy stuff to deal with because living in Central City has become too dangerous. Same thing with Barry and Iris. They’re looking at a new beginning because, as Barry’s Map Book says, Iris is getting pregnant. We know the baby does come — it is now so they’re dealing with the new beginning at the same time. Also with Wally when he comes back, he’s in one huge emotional crossroads dealing with the darkness of his past that was touched upon in Season 2 of the show. Those demons are resurfacing now and that he has to deal with those in order to get to closure and a new beginning too. So almost all of the members of the West-Allen family have something they need to overcome this year over the course of Season 9, and they will to get to the happy ending that we all know it kind of coming in.
What are some arcs that you wish you could have done for this show, but weren’t able to? You sort of touched upon that, but I would love to hear more about that.
Gosh, there’s just so many. I’m so bummed! We were gonna do all kinds of things. I can tell you we were going to tackle The Forever War storyline, which is something that I come up for Season 10. That was going to be a season opener, and we’ve been hinting at it… I wanted to do a full on crossover with as many characters as possible. The Blackest Night storyline that we started hinting at last year with Diggle and the box. So yeah, it kind of bums me out that we’re not going to do that. I wanted to bring Despero with his alien friends and have a full on alien invasion. That would have featured the Justice League at the Hall of Justice coming in and helping Barry. We’re not going to do that either. So these things happen. Having said that, on my bucket list of things I did want to accomplish you’d be surprised that over half of them are in, so there are spoilers I can’t really talk about. We just took episode 200 and turned it into the series finale, so I’m very happy that we’re actually getting to do that. And it’s going to be an incredibly emotional story specifically for Barry and the fallout from it and how he and Iris kind of handle it.
I just want to say as well you know after your and your team’s incredible work over the last several years and though for the past nine years for The Flash in general, how are you feeling looking back on your journey as showrunner of The Flash?
Oh, that’s a good question. I think it’s too early for me to have an accurate assessment. You know, my time isn’t my tenure as a showrunner because, you know, I’m still in it. I’m still trying to finish filming episode 11 right now. I’m literally writing the series finale as we speak. So I don’t think I can give an accurate picture overall, but I will say it’s been, I think, one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I think that’s something I can say now. There’s been a lot of laughter, a lot of tears, a lot of excitement, a lot of surprises. I didn’t know that there was going to be a global pandemic in my tenure. That I could have really done without! And navigate those incredibly difficult waters surrounded by the best team of storytellers and actors and crew and writers and executives who are supporting me the whole way through all of this. That’s been an unforgettable experience. And that’s something I’m going to take with me when I leave and I’m going to be very very grateful.
CORRECTION 2/7/2023, 6:05 PM: An earlier version of this article incorrectly quoted Mr. Wallace as saying “All the Legends [of Tomorrow] at least are all going to appear in an episode.” There is no confirmation of all the Legends returning in The Flash.
You can watch The Flash Season 9 premiere, “Wednesday Ever After,” this Wednesday, February 8 on The CW and then streaming the next day on The CW App.